Why do we take pictures?

That’s a bit of a silly question, isn’t it? We take a picture of something  because we want to have a picture of it. That’s all there is to it, or is it?
To get a more useful answer, maybe we should make the question less general: Why  take a picture of a certain plant?
The answer could still be vague: because I like to have a picture of this plant.  As long as that is all you want, fine. As they say: if you don’t mind where you are going, you ain’t lost.
If, on the other hand, you want to make a meaningful picture, your answer will have to be more specific.  You must be able to put into words why exactly you would photograph this plant. Otherwise, the best you can expect is what the famous Ansel Adams used to call “a sharp image of a fuzzy concept”.

The reasons for photographing a plant (or a part of a plant!) may cover an enormous range:
– because I like these flowers
– because I’m writing an article on this species
– because this is the first time I see the plant in the wild/ in this kind of environment/ in this area
– because I want to show the peculiar hairs on the leaves
– because I don’t have a picture of this species yet
– because the fruits remind me of …
– because I want to show the plant in its natural surroundings
– because normally the plant does not flower in this time of the year
– because I don’t know the name of the plant and hopefully the picture  can help me sort it       out
– because the fruits/buds/young leaves look so wonderful
– because I am awed by how this little plant survives in its hostile environment
– because I want to impress people with a picture of this rare plant in my collection
– because the picture will remind me of this wonderful trip
– because……, because……., because…….

Obviously you don’t have to restrict yourself to one reason. Do remember however, that each reason will demand a different approach. You will not be able to show a big  plant as  a whole and a detail of it, at the same time; if you want to show hairs or warts, you will probably need to use side lighting or backlighting, etc.
When you look at the list a bit closer, you will notice that part of the reasons have to do with the subject as such. In that case you will need a documentary, representative approach.  Other reasons have to do with your response to the subject, requiring an impressionistic,  creative approach.  Being aware of all this and responding in a suitable way, is an important step on the way to better pictures.

euphmult2009-06-06_DSC1976_lznres  euphmult2011_04_17#080_lzn-1res
Twice the same species (Euphorbia multiceps), but what a difference in pictures!

huerpill2011_11_25#014_lznres  huerpill_DSC4830_lznres
Huernia pillansii lends itself perfectly for making abstracts pictures

drosbico2011_09_13a#026_lznres  drosbico2011_09_13a#030_lznres
The first picture shows the plant (Drosanthemum bicolor) in its environment,  the second one tells us  much more about the flowers

mitrcliv2011_10_05 e.v.#231_lznres  mitrcliv2011_10_05 e.v.#233_lznres
The first picture shows the juvenile stage of Mitrophyllum clivorum, the second one gives an impression of an adult plant

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *